Northern Ireland news

Outgoing mayor defends refusal to meet Prince Charles

The new mayor of Derry and Strabane council, John Boyle, at the Guildhall with SDLP colleagues Mark H Durkan and Colum Eastwood. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

THE outgoing Sinn Féin mayor of Derry and Strabane has defended his refusal to meet Prince Charles during his term.

SDLP councillor John Boyle succeeded Maolíosa McHugh as head of the district council at last night's annual general meeting.

Veteran Castlederg Ulster Unionist Derek Hussey was elected deputy mayor under the D'Hondt power-sharing process.

Mr McHugh was criticised by unionist councillors over his refusal to meet Prince Charles when he visited flood victims in Derry last year, as well as a decision to wear the mayor's chain of office in photographs outside Maghaberry jail after he had visited dissident republican prisoner Tony Taylor.

It is official council policy to support the campaign for Mr Taylor's release after he had his licence revoked by then Secretary of State Teresa Villiers in 2016.

Mr McHugh said he refused to meet Prince Charles in support of the Bloody Sunday families, as prosecutors consider whether to charge some former Parachute Regiment soldiers – of which Prince Charles is titular commander – in connection with the 1972 killings.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Boyle said he intended prioritising the expansion of Ulster University's Magee campus and City of Derry Airport as well as securing a British government 'City Deal' for Derry.

“Our transport infrastructure is still not up to speed and the deficit in this area must be further addressed over the coming year," he said.

"Our university must be assisted in realising our ambition to see student numbers expanded with more education courses on offer. Key to this is the further development of the proposed medical school."

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Northern Ireland news